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New York City Department of Education bans principals from reviewing budgets amid lawsuit over budget cuts

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The New York City Department of Education has stopped public school principals from accessing next year’s budget following a temporary injunction issued last week by a New York Supreme Court judge.

The order prevents the education sector from enforcing cuts to school budgets based on declining enrollment. The judge’s order came in response to a lawsuit filed by a group of parents and teachers for cuts, which he’s estimated at over $370 million by city auditors.

The move means that principals will no longer be able to access the education sector’s online platform known as Galaxy, a tool they use to view their budgets, so when planning the start of the next school year beginning September 8, principals will have to can pose difficulties for And pay for labor and supplies.

In a memo sent to principals and superintendents today, Education Division Chief Operating Officer Emma Badera said the decision was made at the direction of the city’s legal counsel.

“We know this is very inconvenient,” wrote Vadehra. “Please wait for further communication.”

Education department spokesperson Nathaniel Styer said the city’s legal counsel said, “This is [temporary restraining order] requirement. “

In their lawsuit, the plaintiffs allege that the city violated state law when the mayor and city council passed the budget in June without a departmental oversight body that approves agency spending plans. It also alleges that council members were led to believe that vacant staff positions would be eliminated as a result of budget cuts. and ask for a re-vote.

The Adams administration argued in court that the temporary injunction would be confusing to school administrators who are currently making hiring and programming decisions.

“Every day, under vast and vague limits, [temporary restraining order] It paralyzes the DOE in preparation for the looming back-to-school term,” wrote Tahirih M. Sadrieh of the city’s legal department in a petition to reverse the order filed in the state Supreme Court’s Appeals Division on Thursday.

But Laura Barbieri, an attorney representing the plaintiffs, said the administration was causing chaos by cutting the principal out of the budget.

“The city’s lawyers instigated this,” she told Goshamist. “It’s manufactured entirely by the city.”

The two sides returned to court today after Judge Lyle Frank rejected an earlier request from the Adams administration on Wednesday to lift the temporary restraining order. Additional appeals are being filed prior to the meeting.

The city’s public schools have lost more than 85,000 students since the start of the pandemic. School budgets are typically adjusted based on annual enrollment, but the administration of former Mayor Bill de Blasio has pushed for federal stimulus to stabilize school funding during the COVID-19 crisis. used.

Now Mayor Eric Adams has acknowledged that emergency federal funding is expiring. He and his principal, David Banks, have argued that the school’s budget should be adjusted to reflect the decline in enrollment.

The administration also argues in court filings that the order will prevent it from allocating additional funds to the few schools in the city where student numbers have increased.

In an interview with Gothamist, Barbieri said he was prepared to negotiate with city attorneys to amend the temporary injunctions and seek judge approval so that additional funding can be delivered to these schools. Stated.

Neither the mayor’s office nor the city’s legal department requested comment on Barbieri’s offer.

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